At just 19, Patricia Frazier has become Chicago’s first National Youth Laureate and the second-ever National Youth Poet Laureate, after Amanda Gorman.
The judges of the National Youth Poet Laureate honour, founded in 2008 by Urban Word in partnership with the New York City Mayor’s Office and NYC Votes, were impressed by her poetry, which they termed as ‘phenomenal’.
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“Patricia’s poetry is really phenomenal,” Michael Cirelli, Executive Director of Urban Word, said. “The judges were impressed with the quality of her craft, but they also considered her commitment to social justice and youth development.”
Frazier, a second-year student at Columbia College Chicago, draws her inspiration from everyday life, just like the famous Gwendolyn Brooks. Most of her work focused on growing up in Chicago and the changes that have taken place, including gentrification.
She told Chicago Magazine about her poetry:
When I first started writing poetry, I was writing about stuff that I witnessed right outside my front door: my story with gentrification, living in Bronzeville, being pushed out when my projects were torn down, and then moving to Englewood and seeing how the culture there contradicted things that were said about Englewood in the news and on TV. Now, my poetry has navigated towards talking more about the people in my neighborhood and telling their stories—the plight of black women, racism, and what it’s like to be a queer young person in a homophobic family.
Frazier’s debut book, Graphite, is an ode to her grandmother and tells of loss and rebirth. It also looks deeper into the how African-Americans have been forced to survive in a world that is set to erase them.
Besides writing poetry, Frazier is also an activist, working with various groups including the Assata’s Daughters on addressing the prison industrial complex.
Listen to Frazier reciting one of her poems: